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La Danse Des Morts, Comme Elle Est Depeinte Dans La Louable Et Celebre Ville De Basle, Pour Servir D'Un Miroir De La Nature Humaine. Dessinée Et Gravée Sur L'Original de feu Mr. Matthieu Merian. On Y A Ajouté, Une Description De La Ville De Basle, & Des Vers A Chaque Figure. -

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Todten-Tanz, wie derselbe in der löbl. u. Welt-berühmten Stadt Basel


A Basle,: Chés Jean Rodolphe Im-Hoff., 1744.

Physical Description

lix, [1], 132 p.: [43] illus.; 207 mm. (Quarto.)

General Note

The pagination 'lix' includes a blank first page, an added engraved title-plate and the blank verso of the title-plate. The illustrations do not carry print-numbers, but each carries the number of the page on which it is to be printed.


[Blank recto, verso carrying title-page, added engr. t.pl., blank verso] - Vorbericht des Verlegers - Vorrede an den Christlichen Leser (by Matthaeus Merian der Aeltere) - Æneæ Sylvii, Nachgehends Pabsts Pii II. Beschreibung der Stadt Basel - Avis Du Libraire - Preface Au Lecteur (by Mattieu Merian, l'ainé) - Description De La Ville De Basle, Par Æneas Sylvius, qui fut après Pape sous le Nom de Pius II - [Text, and illus.] - Betrachtung der Sterblichkeit, Besserung des Lebens ...; Au Lecteur - Exhortation à bien vivre pour bien mourir; Erinnerung, von der menschlichen Sterblichkeit ... .

Responsibility Note

The British Library's catalogue entry states that the translator of Merian's Vorrede was P. Viene.

The added engraved title-plate is unsigned. Most in-text prints are signed as engraved by Chovin. The title-page vignette, headpieces and tailpieces are unsigned.


Matthäus Merian d. Ä. Ätzkunstler und Verleger [exhibition catalogue] (2003); Matthaeus Merian der Aelterer [exhibition catalogue] (1993); L.H. Wüthrich, Das druckgraphische Werk von Matthaeus Merian d. Ae. (4 v., 1966-95).

Summary Note

The added engraved title-plate reads, 'Todten-Tanz, wie derselbe in der löbl. u. Welt-berühmten Stadt Basel, als ein Spiegel menschlicher Beschaffenheit künstlich gemahlet und zu sehen ist Nach dem Original in Kupfer gebracht nebst einer Beschreibung von der Stadt Basel. - Basel, - Zufinden beij Joh. Rud. Im-Hof. 1744.'

The original engravings by Matthaeus Merian the elder were copies of wall-paintings in the Dominikanerkloster in Basel.

The added engraved title-plate incorporates a border showing four scenes of Death, personified as a human skeleton, triumphing over various human beings. The first in-text illustration shows a preacher. The next forty show a personification of Death, represented as a human skeleton, claiming persons in various walks of life. The last but one shows Adam and Eve. The last shows the head of a man in modern dress, which when inverted shows a death's-head.

Reprints of this book were published in 1756 (Basle: Jean Rodolphe Imhof), 1789 (Basle: Jean Rod. Im-Hoff & fils) and 1892 (Paris: Maison de la Bonne Presse).


A preliminary leaf is inscribed in ink, 'Wm. Lock bought at Basle 1790'; another is inscribed in ink, 'Presented by the Widow of George Jones R.A. late librarian & Keeper of the Royal Academy' and in a different hand '23rd January 1875'. The added engraved title-plate is inscribed in ink top right, 'George Jones RA'.

Binding Note

20th-century half dark-green calf, green cloth-covered boards; gilt-decorated spine, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Danse Des Morts', spine lettered 'R.A.' and '1744'.

Name as Subject


Dance of death - Death - Mortality - Immortality - Future life - Ethics - Emblems
Engravings - Switzerland - 17th century - 18th century
Emblem books - Switzerland - 17th century - 18th century
Pictorial works - Switzerland - 18th century


Matthaeus Merian, source artist
Pius II Pope, Urbis Basiliensis Descriptio
Jean Rodolphe Im Hof, publisher
Jacques Antony Chovin, engraver
George Jones RA, previous owner
Mrs. Gertrude Ann Jones, previous owner, donor